WikiCandidate is a fascinating experiment in user-generated content focused on a very specific exercise: the creation of a virtual campaign for a fictional presidential candidate.
Run by a team of students led by Professor Tarleton Gillespie of the Department of Communication at Cornell, the site aims to enable you, the plain old regular internet user, to:
"create a "perfect" presidential candidate unfettered by a checkered past or foot-in-mouth syndrome. The only stipulation is that the candidate you build must be agreed upon by the other participants on the site. To reach an agreement, you may need to promote your opinions and positions on various issues, or compromise with other users on some points to gain support for the candidate."
The project has only just begun and things are likely to heat up soon. The most interesting pages to date are those set aside for "Issues." These contain entries on affordable local food, education reform, healthcare, and so on. There is also a section labelled "Coalitions" as well as a Donate button (not for cash donations, but for "donating" survey answers when the team conduct analysis of the experiment later on).
The site is based on a hybrid blog and wiki platform, the aim being to get some discussion going about the candidate's policies and character.
This is an interesting project - a nice mix of ideas about sociotechnical design and civic engagement. The WikiCandidate experiment will be the subject of a panel at next week's Politics: Web 2.0 Conference at Royal Holloway, University of London, organised by the New Political Communication Unit. The final conference programme is now published.